CIT GAP Funds Invests in Linebird to Bring the Unmanned Systems Revolution to High Voltage Power Lines

Company’s use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to make contact with live power lines improves safety and reduces costs of grid maintenance and monitoring

Herndon, Virginia, UNITED STATES


Richmond, VA, March 24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced that CIT GAP Funds has invested in Richmond, Va.-based Linebird, developer of an unmanned aerial systems (UAS) solution that makes contact with live power lines, addressing the safety concerns of grid maintenance and monitoring. Linebird is transforming the way power transmission infrastructure is inspected and maintained in a safer way with the use of drone technology. The company will use this investment to prepare its technology for product launch by the end of the year.

Power line inspection and maintenance is one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S., with lineman fatality rates close to those of law enforcement and construction workers. Specifically, work on high-altitude, energized infrastructure is the most hazardous part of line work and requires capital equipment such as helicopters for crew access. Linebird is addressing these risks by offering UAS payload systems that enable unmanned work in contact with live lines, greatly reducing cost and liability of operations and maintenance.

“Linebird is transforming the way power transmission infrastructure is inspected and maintained. We are reducing risk factors for work that is traditionally handled by a manned crew, which can now be done remotely or autonomously,” said Michael Beiro, Founder and CEO of Linebird. “Our mission is to continue innovating and improving UAS technology so that jobs such as manually running diagnostics and conducting repairs on live power lines can be done without human contact. We thank CIT GAP Funds for their support and financial investment, which is contributing to our plans for rapid growth.”

Linebird’s modular suspended payload system allows direct-contact, live-line work without the high-risk use of helicopters and linemen. The solution can adjust to accommodate many industrial drones, and the system can adopt other linemen tools to do inspection, maintenance and repair. Their first use case adapts the SensorLink OhmStikTM, a well-known lineman's tool for evaluating power line connections, to UAS deployment, providing an innovative way to enable power grid reliability and resilience. This allows existing manned utility crews to focus on higher value and lower risk operations.

“With jobs in the utilities industry being one of the top 10 most fatal in the country, Linebird is well-positioned to address a critical market need. Their team is passionate about making a positive impact on this industry by advancing technology to make these jobs safer and more efficient,” said Marco Rubin, Senior Investment Director, CIT GAP Funds. “Linebird’s recent recognition as a finalist in the Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) Incubatenergy Labs 2021 Pitch Contest is a positive sign of more good things to come. We look forward to following their journey as they continue to grow and gain more traction.”

About Linebird
Linebird is working to transform the way power transmission infrastructure is inspected and maintained, expanding the capabilities of unmanned systems to take work that was once costly and life-threatening and do it quickly, cheaply, and remotely with the power of automation. We are currently conducting lab and field tests to demonstrate that unmanned systems can bring lineman tools in contact with live transmission lines through our patent-pending process and readying our technology for field deployment. For more information, please visit https://linebird.net/.

About CIT GAP Funds
CIT GAP Funds makes seed-stage equity investments in Virginia-based technology, cleantech, and life science companies with a high potential for achieving rapid growth and generating a significant economic return for entrepreneurs, co-investors, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since its inception in 2005, CIT GAP Funds has deployed $32.4 million in capital across more than 240 portfolio companies, including 17 companies in designated Opportunity Zones. CIT GAP Funds’ investments are overseen by the CIT GAP Funds Investment Advisory Board (IAB). This independent, third-party panel consists of leading regional entrepreneurs, angel, and strategic investors, and venture capital firms such as New Enterprise Associates, Grotech Ventures, Harbert Venture Partners HIG Ventures, Edison Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Intersouth Partners, SJF Ventures, Carilion Health Systems, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, and Alpha Natural Resources. For more information, please visit www.cit.org/gap.

About the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT)
Investing in Virginia's Growth | CIT concentrates on the early commercialization and seed funding stages of innovation, helping innovators and tech entrepreneurs launch and grow new companies, create high-paying jobs, and accelerate economic growth throughout the entire state of Virginia. Founded in 1985, CIT accelerates next-generation technologies and technology companies through commercialization, capital formation, and market development initiatives throughout Virginia. Programs include | CIT GAP Funds | Commonwealth Commercialization Fund (CCF) | Virginia Founders Fund | Smart Communities | Cybersecurity | Unmanned Systems | SBIR/STTR Support (Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs) | Virginia Research Investment Fund (VRIF) | Regional Innovation Fund (RIF) | Startup Company Mentoring & Engagement. For more information, please visit www.cit.org. You can also follow CIT on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

 

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